Bridge of Weir

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William Fulton Houston PTE WM F HOUSTON R.E.

50098 Private William Fulton Houston

att 9th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment

died from gas 14th May 1918

aged 36

St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen
St Machar's Church Memorial, Bridge of Weir

Ladebank Terrace, Bridge of Weir
Son of Robert Houston and Mary Fulton
Husband of Elizabeth McIntosh
Father of Mary and Andrew

His Life

William Fulton Houston was born on 24th July 1882 at Roseland, Erskine, Renfrewshire, the second of a family of eight born to Robert Houston and Mary Fulton, from Whithorn, Wigtownshire, who had married there on 26th June 1879.

In 1881 Robert (28), Mary (23), and their first child Mary were living in 6 Willis Square, Everton, Lancashire. Robert was a warehouse foreman. They returned to Scotland before William was born, just over a year later.

In 1891 the Houston family of seven was living at Mosshall, Erskine. Robert was a general labourer and the children, including William F (8), were at school if old enough.

By 1901 the Houston family, now of nine, had moved to Broomward Land, Bridge of Weir. By then Robert was a foreman roadman with the County Council, William (18) was a joiner's apprentice and Helen (14) a dressmaker's apprentice. Eldest daughter Mary was no longer in the family home.

In April 1911, Robert, Mary and four of their children had moved to West Kildarroch, Kirkinner, Wigtownshire where Robert had turned to farming. William (28) remained in Renfrewshire, however, and was working as a joiner and boarding with the Tod family in Ladebank Terrace, Bridge of Weir, in the same apartment as David Tod, also destined to be killed in the war.

William Houston family William Fulton Houston married Elizabeth Thomson McIntosh, daughter of Andrew McIntosh, a currier and leather merchant from Crosslee, Renfrewshire and Agnes Campbell, in Paisley on 14th July 1911. Their daughter Mary Fulton Houston was born in Bridge of Weir on 13th August 1912, and son Andrew McIntosh Houston on 21st June 1916.

William enlisted at Paisley on 1st September 1916, initially as Regimental No. 116636 in the Royal Garrison Artillery at The Citadel, Plymouth, later transferring to the Royal Engineers, No. 224132. By the time he died he was attached to the 9th Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire Regiment), which formed the pioneer battalion of the 37th Division, from whom he received his final number 50098.

In April 1918, the 37th Division was engaged in the 1918 Battle of the Ancre , one of the final battles fought in the Somme area as the Germans advanced rapidly in a final attempt to punch through the British lines. Although they penetrated, the Allies recovered and the German offensive, also known as Operation Michael, failed. The Germans used mustard gas, which they had developed in 1917. The War Diaries of the 9th North Staffordshires describe the shelling of Fonquevillers on 11th May 1918, between 5 pm and mindnight, with some 2,000 shells, and it took some time to realise they were gas shells. The men also had difficulties wearing their box respirators. 59 men were killed by effects of the gas immediately and 140 more were taken to a Field Ambulance. William, and probably many more of the 140, finally succumbed to its effects in No. 9 U.S. Hospital in Rouen on 14th May 1918. His father Robert, a former church officer at St Machar's Church in Bridge of Weir, died at his farm in Wigtownshire less than two months later.

William's wife and two young children received a pension of 25s/5d a week.


1881 Census 1891 Census 1901 Census 1911 Census Birthplace
Name Age Name Age Name Age Name Age
Mary9 mo Mary11Everton, England
William F8William18Wm F*28Erskine, Renfrewshire
Jane6Jane16Erskine, Renfrewshire
Ellen F4Helen14Helen24Inchinnan, Renfrewshire
Robert M2Robert12Robert22Erskine, Renfrewshire
Janet9Janet19Erskine, Renfrewshire
Peter7Bridge of Weir
James3James13Bridge of Weir

* = not in Robert and Mary Houston's family home - see text for details


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